Housing In Haryana: What To Make Of The New Policy On 'Stilt Plus Four-Floor' Buildings

Ankit Saxena

Jul 04, 2024, 05:12 PM | Updated 05:27 PM IST

Many parts of Gurugram have seen significant growth in plotted residential colonies.
Many parts of Gurugram have seen significant growth in plotted residential colonies.

The construction of buildings featuring "stilt plus four floors" (S+4) in housing colonies is a contentious topic among residents in Haryana, especially in cities like Gurugram and Panchkula.

This building concept involves converting single residential plots into four floors of independent apartments, a common practice known as builder floors. Such construction is driven by high land values and housing demand.

However, it brings several challenges for housing colonies. For this reason, they have received mixed opinions from both residents and real estate developers.

These structures feature a stilt floor raised above ground level, typically used for parking, with an additional four floors above for residential or commercial use.

The Haryana government recently granted approval for the construction of these buildings in residential areas and allowed owners to sell independent floors, reversing its decision to ban them last year.

In February 2023, the state cabinet announced that the government would not accept new applications or building plan maps for such structures, while also banning existing constructions in some cities.

The decision was taken in response to numerous residents' concerns about irregular development and the growing infrastructure and environmental concerns.

The rise of four-floor structures

Gurugram has witnessed extensive development of high-rise housing complexes over the years. At the same time, many parts of the city have seen growth in plotted residential colonies.

The latter drew favour as it gave owners and developers an opportunity to build floors independently with greater comfort and privacy, expansive bedrooms and hall spaces, and high-end amenities, all at a lower cost compared to high-rise apartments.

Originally, the housing construction policy for plotted residences permitted two and a half floors that could be built by the plot owner in licensed colonies.

However, with the rising demand in the city, the registration of three independent floors in residential plots gained pace in 2009, when a policy was framed in this regard.

Later, due to the increasing popularity of four independent-builder-developed floors in Delhi, the demand for registration of four floors intensified.

In response to public demand, the Haryana government amended the policy in 2019 to allow the construction of up to four floors, with a stilt area reserved for parking.

Strong opposition

The demand for low-rise independent floors brought a notable influx of homebuyers to the housing market, who came with an inclination to invest in chaos-free, low-density gated communities.

Many plot owners themselves became builders, using the plot as an asset, while others sold their plots to developers.

Estimates suggested an upsurge of 42 per cent in the launch of independent floor projects in the National Capital Region (NCR).

However, the rising demand led to several unapproved and uncontrolled expansions of such structures, creating overburdening challenges.

Given the existing infrastructure challenges in Gurugram, the construction of additional floors added to the supply issues of utilities such as water, drainage, electricity, security, and adequate space for car parking.

Additionally, there have been issues related to continuous construction in the sectors, damage to neighbouring houses, security and social problems, and the commercialisation of residential colonies.

Developers, on the other hand, asked for an upgrade to civic infrastructure and the resumption of the S+4 construction policy in the city.

They asserted that guidelines on construction norms, environment, and other aspects of four-floor buildings were needed rather than a ban due to the vast demand for independent builder floors in the city.

New policy

After a 16-month ban, the new policy comes with several conditions aimed at changing the existing development pattern.

The government has decided to allow such construction in residential sectors where the layout plan for building four dwelling units per plot or accommodating a density of 18 people per plot has been approved.

Additionally, it includes residential areas where the layout plan for building three dwelling units per plot is approved, provided the plot abuts a road that is 10 metres (m) or wider for access.

However, to respect neighbourhood terms, all this would move forward on obtaining consent agreements with all adjoining plot allottees or maintaining side setbacks of a certain dimension on every floor from the neighbouring plots.

These changes are broadly based on the recommendations of the expert committee constituted to study and analyse the issue.

The state government has also decided that violators will pay a penalty 10 times the rate prescribed for raising such constructions without approved building plans.

Residents, however, still demand stricter enforcement from the authorities to ensure proper regulation and prevent commercial misuse.

They claim that although additional floors have been included by changing the building code, there has been no corresponding increase in the infrastructure capacity to handle this unplanned growth and population density.

The policy provides a fresh start and brings relief to the ever-growing real estate markets in Haryana's cities. Its impact may, however, vary based on the nature of different cities.

The policy may be favourable in Gurgaon due to the high demand and the need for more housing, but it is less well-received in cities like Panchkula, considered more of a retirement city neighbouring Chandigarh.

With the new policies, restructuring the drainage, water supply infrastructure, and other civic amenities remain primary works.

Still, the development of builder floors is required to support the housing demand in growing cities, chiefly by offering more housing opportunities on the same piece of land.

The new policy also presents a chance for emerging colonies in Haryana and elsewhere to conform to established norms. That would prevent issues with future expansion owing to a growing population.

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